With Nellie, it's always high drama
Times being tough all over, it's hard to get too agitated about the manner in which Warriors guard
That's how Rocky found out he was a bum or, as the suits might say today, right-sized out of Mighty Mick's Boxing gym. And that makes Warriors coach
"I've always been very open and honest with my players and I did tell him he probably would either opt out or we would move him next year,'' Nelson said last week, confirming to the
Nelson then threw out the hollow praise ("He's too good ... to be a 10- or 15-minute player'') that employees at all levels hear when they're being nudged out the door. The real issue is money, namely, the $19.4 million over the next two seasons that Crawford can lock in this summer by invoking the player option in his contract. The Warriors would prefer not be on the hook for that at all, rather than have to shop Crawford to one of the other 29 teams as a devalued, overpriced asset. So Nelson encouraged Crawford to pursue his career elsewhere at a destination of his choice (and at a salary surely driven down by market forces) or risk having his fate determined for him.
Who among us wouldn't appreciate that sort of open and honest communication with our supervisors?
Who among us wouldn't also instruct our agent to lock in the $19 mil the first minute of the first day he can, give the boss a smile and a wave and say, "Nellie, take your best shot?''
That's life with the NBA's reigning drama king. Nelson is to the league's head coaches what
In Nellie's world, no stone goes unturned, no boat floats unrocked and well enough never, ever is left alone. What for Newton was his Third Law -- for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction -- for Nelson is his first. His positives pack negatives. His teams' potential so frequently brings disappointment.
The duality of Nellie is everywhere. He is an NBA lifer, after all, who dates to
He has won three Coach of the Year awards -- more than
This season, they are 10th in home attendance (18,889), which means they're a good show, even when giving up 124 points per game (including 154 vs. Phoenix) on their recent four-game homestand. But the Warriors are tied for 23rd in success with a mere 24 victories. That means they are on pace to win 29 games and sit down again after 82.
After taking teams to the playoffs 10 times in his first 12 coaching seasons, he will miss for the 10th time in his past 18 tries. Nelson's record of discovering and/or developing unheralded players -- from
I go back to Nellie's Milwaukee days, where I learned as much about basketball and the league in a few seasons around him as I had learned about people, human nature and the cosmos in a year covering
Nelson was creative and he loved tension, long before business gurus combined those elements for big consulting fees. When most coaches were chalking X's and O's on the board, he was stenciling L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E on knuckles, as far as some players were concerned, sometimes praising, sometimes cajoling and sometimes crawling inside their heads, as the case required. Always motivating. Always interesting. Not always winning.
"Coach is a genius,'' Crawford told longtime Bay Area sportswriter
At that point, Crawford was asked if Nelson's "genius'' might be beyond the grasp of mere mortals.
"Yeah,'' he said. "You hit it on [the] head. I can't get inside his head. He usually sees things before I do. I told him when I first got here he would call plays and he would know they were going to be open before any of the players knew. I told him I'll steal some of his stuff when I start coaching. I'm not going to question the coach.''
So which is it: Genius? Mad genius? Or just mad sometimes, as in plain loco?